Thursday, March 6, 2008

Insect revival

caterpillar activity also up.. this pic was taken south edge of gazelle field one day last week.

Another lovely warm day in Jerusalem, Israel up a little on yesterday.. range today 15-24.5 degrees C.

Earliest birds ( just after 5.30 a.m. ) again house sparrows, clear, sweet sunbird calls, laughing dove coos with white spectacled bulbuls joining in shortly after.

At almost 5 p.m. almost 22 degrees C, 26% humidity, wind very light from the south east. High cirrus clouds, Jordan rift valley hazy, barely visible.

No swifts around at all today though more insects seen on the wing. I was very gratified however to see both 'blackjack' male black redstart and european robin active foraging at the bunker ruins.. in the course of time we were watching they swopped use of their rebar look-out posts from end to end of that zone.

Some largish raptor glided crossed the field toward the north valley pines but had only edge on back view the whole time.. seemed too brown for the sparrowhawk from the angle I saw but could be wrong.

Plenty chiffchaff activity in the east valley pines, along with fair sightings, alarm 'weet' calls as well as a high 'seet' call which seemed also to come from the chiffchaff and could be a contact call? Not as thin as that of the blackbird but quite similar to that of the black redstart though the BRS's sounds a touch more urgent and strident. Now I'm thinking that most of the 'seet' calls in the pines this season were from chiffchaffs all along which shows how careful one has to be about contact calls and how it's important to get sightings whenever possible. This is one of the reasons that I insist on trying to get obs of 'Blackjack' at the rubble as my main confirmation that they are still around.. as well as the fact that black redstarts prefer more open ground rather than in the dense parts of the pines though we have seen them go into the trees by the wood edges and call like that.

A pair of blackbirds foraging in a shrub just up from the stream trail. (the stream itself of course already dry again) Good to see they're pairing up again for the season. I don't know if blackbirds keep their pairing through the winter. By about 5.45 p.m. a blackbird in fine song by the sapling field. Brief Syrian woodpecker call, some strident graceful warbler calls and some distant chucking calls from chukar pheasants coming from somewhere in the east valley. Plenty great tit vocalizations all over the woods and around look-out corner. Hooded crows about in tree tops and a few chaffinches up in the same cypresses in north valley as we saw them yesterday. Feral pigeons about. Collared doves heard and seen in the woods, not cooing, but when they break from the trees the whistling of their wing feathers is obvious, and we also saw one up on a line. Small flock of greenfinches flew into eucalyptus. Briefly a lovely lark like chiming call from above, heading from gazelle field to south east. We've heard larks before up on windsurfer hill.

Also at about 5.45 p.m. an amazingly shrill and beautiful stridulation of a cricket from somewhere at the north end of the sapling field. They're back in action! Other evidence of insect revival was a patch along the stream path where there were literally scores of ant excavation mounds over several dozen square metres.

On our way back north along valley road we noticed a nice big mature shaggy rock hyrax staring back at us, probably on sentry duty on a boulder just a couple of metres or so back from the road.

As I write 6.12 p.m. it's already dark and I hear a whole sequence of 'seeweet!' calls reaching me from the valley, from stone curlews. 6.30 more stone curlews 'seweetit! and seweet!'

Looking in at Denbury Farm, Somerset, England at about half past noon today:
Plenty chaffinches, blue tits, greenfinches, house sparrows and great tits with visits by coal tit/s, long tailed tit, robin, maybe marsh tit briefly and a female great spotted woodpecker, prob same one.

It's sunny at 8.30 a.m. James Reserve in California though temps just above freezing and still actually a little snow left on the ground in places. A pair of pygmy nuthatches are at the tube feeders. The fat block is down to a smallish lump. An American crow has shown up and the nuthatches beat a hasty retreat. Now its mate, foraging on the ground below, now joined it on the feeders. They moved off for a minute and an oregon junco and mountain chickadee came by but departed again quickly when a crow returned. Now a pair of mourning doves is on the ground below scavenging for fallen food. This is a really great set of feeders to watch if you have the time, you never know what's going to happen next. That's the main thing I love about birdwatching. A Steller's jay is at the feeder now, moved up to the fat block, displacing a mountain chickadee, one of a pair that just came by.

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